85% of musicians have witnessed or experienced discrimination, according to new data

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Findings made by The Musicians’ Union (MU) and Black Lives in Music (BLiM) show that 85% of musicians have witnessed or experienced some form of discrimination.

The Global Majority Insight Report reveals the imbalance in earnings, career progression and experiences of discrimination for UK musicians.

The report saw the majority of participants from the Global Majority have an average annual income of £17,745 with an ethnicity pay gap of almost £1,000 between white respondents.

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50% of those involved in the report said there was a lack of sustainable income with 35% claiming they cannot support themselves or their families from being a musician and 24% were in debt.

On top of this, a key finding revealed that 81% of people who have experienced racism in the music industry said that this had a significant impact on their career progression.

Less than a third of this number reported their experiences with racism and 16% of the group reported the discrimination being based on their socioeconomic background.

Overall, a third of musicians from the Global Majority said they had poor mental health and 26% reported poor physical health.

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With the findings from this data, the MU and BLiM are calling for support for the Global Majority and for organisations to sign up to the Black Lives in Music’s upcoming Anti-Racism Code of Conduct and toolkit.

The toolkit is planning to tackle racism and discrimination in the music industry and make a “culture of genuine equity and inclusion”.

The Global Majority Insight Report is the second created by MU with the Musicians Census launching earlier this year with Help Musicians.

Naomi Pohl, MU General Secretary said: “No one should have to work in environments where they are subject to racism, lower pay or denied career progression because of their ethnicity. This report must act as a call to action for the whole music industry to work together to stamp out the racism and discrimination musicians from the Global Majority are experiencing.

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“As the UK’s trade union for musicians, working for and on behalf of our members is our priority and we are committed to working with our Global Majority members to tackle the challenges they face.

“We know from working with members that musicians from the Global Majority’s skills and experiences are often overlooked, dismissed or devalued. This report further confirms that and shows us in detail, that racism and discrimination exist in every corner of the music industry. These are not one off or isolated experiences; the information musicians shared with us show systemic issues within the music industry that cannot be ignored.”

Pohl concludes: “The Musicians’ Census has given us more evidence of the problems, now we need to start working on the solutions. If we want an equitable and diverse music industry, which I believe everyone does, then we must listen and act.”

Clarisse Beaumont, Chief Executive, Black Lives in Music said: “The findings from this first Musician’s Census insight report demonstrate the level of importance of listening and understanding the lived experience of Global majority music creators. The results mirror the findings from our Being Black in the UK Music Industry report published in 2021.”

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Beaumont adds: “There is much work to be done throughout the music ecosystem and at every level to change the disparities we see in the data. There is no place for discrimination in any industry, especially the music industry which is fundamental to all of society. Therefore, we welcome the recommendations from this report and look forward to a hands across the table approach to implement them effectively; together, let’s create a music industry where everyone, regardless of their background, can thrive.”

Read the full Global Majority Insight Report here.

Becky Buckle is Mixmag’s Multimedia Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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